- Mendocino County
- Anderson Valley
by Spec MacQuayde, March 16, 2016
Spring seems to have successfully encroached upon winter's territory this time around. Our grass is thriving dark green thanks to all the chicken manure, and I doubt we'll have to mow much this season thanks to the flock grazing it down. Except for the remaining roosters and the clucking hens doing the egg-laying squawk, the Farmhouse is quiet these days. My 18 year-old son moved to a trailer way out in the hills and stacks lumber manually at a family-operated sawmill 10 hours a day. He comes around with friends on the weekends to check in, pick up bacon and eggs, both of which we have in abundance. I'm literally feeding dozens of eggs to our last remaining pig these days. Dozens of grass-fed free-range eggs that are currently bringing $7.99 a dozen at the Boont Berry Farm store, if only I could ship them 2000 miles. With farmer's markets not starting until May, and this being the first commercial flock of laying hens I've kept in Indiana, I don't have a outlet at the moment.
"7.99 a dozen! Almost makes me want to move back to Boonville," I said to Jetta last winter as we ordered lunch from the Boont Berry deli counter, where my old friend Kevin had to deal with me again, if only for a few weeks. "Really like that kale salad, and your pizza's gotten better."
"I'm never going back to Indiana," said Jetta, echoing the sentiments of my first two Ex's. Naturally she fell in love with Boont Berry, which was exactly as Kevin had described it to me when we'd run into each other in Ukiah back in the late 1990's, dating women who lived next door to each other on School Street. Even Kevin was exactly as I'd described him, witty in his theatric role behind the counter for more than two decades, possibly the best job in the world. "We HAVE to get a place here."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," I muttered. For a few weeks I too was tempted to move back to Mendo and rent out the farm in Indiana, but such a decision would have been foolhardy, especially since we had about 100 hens ready to start laying.
"I can't go back there." For Jetta the return to Indiana spelled different cards in the deck, one of them being that she is only six years out of high school in a remote village where rednecks occupy the hills and millionaire German farmers the river valley, many of them sexist and racist. Her own father supports Donald Trump. Just this weekend the only black guy in town, a tall, dreadlocked classmate of Jetta's, hung himself. Everyone called him "Nigger Terry" his whole life. He didn't do it on account of being black, but no doubt was ambivalent at best about the nickname.
Not sure what's going on with this Donald Trump thing, but for some reason the grumpy old white guys are really feeling empowered to express their narrow-minded views and even act upon them. Not more than four days after Jetta and her father erupted into some kind of volatile fight resulting in her being forever banned from his kingdom, but the 50 year-old ex-stripper, Jacque Dawn called me, crying. Like Jetta, Jacque still lived on her folks' land, though in a hippie cabin far behind the horse barn and the house, on the edge of the woods. "My dad said if I didn't get off their land he was gonna shoot me!"
I guess her dad, an ex-sniper from Vietnam, also supports Donald Trump, and, like Jetta's dad and millions of other old white guys, hates loose women, Mexicans, blacks, gays, lesbians, and generally anyone who doesn't act like John Wayne. "Maybe he's feeling empowered by Trump's rallies!"
Due to the overwhelming supply of eggs that Jacque Dawn or Jetta gather in the afternoons, I decided to order an incubator that does batches of 270 chicks. I am confident that we will find a market soon, but in the mean time you're talking about dozens every day I don't know what else to do with except feed them to our remaining runt. Supposedly Paul Newman consumed 50 boiled eggs in prison in the movie, Cool Hand Luke, so I know the pig can handle thirty or forty raw ones at a time. He eats them whole like apples. In order to hatch out the chicks we have to separate the two flocks, as we have about equal parts the golden "Red Ranger" meat birds and the black Australorp layers, meaning that the meat chickens will have to move to a new coop at our other farm. The way things work out, a buddy is donating a trailer so Jacque can move to that place and keep an eye on the chickens at night, as it borders the state forest and the predators will be thick.
Jetta will probably move into a teepee out there, unless I decide to emigrate out to the other farm and let the women have the homestead. This means building an outhouse at least, plus there's no electricity or running water. Too bad their dads had to go Trump on them. Probably were tired of both their big mouths touting Bernie. I should have known something was up with Jetta's dad when she told me he'd tossed out the dozen eggs I'd dropped off at their house in town, then gone out and purchased a dozen white eggs in a white Styrofoam container.
"What happened to Spec's eggs?" she asked. Her mom wouldn't say anything, but her four year-old finally told her that they'd been tossed out.
"They had bugs in them," he said.
"I never heard of eggs having bugs in them. Tomatoes, lettuce, apples--but not eggs. Maybe a few lice but nobody would even see them, plus they're outside the shell. Could have been a little dirt or straw or shit, even--I didn't really think it was a big deal. I don't know."
"Well you know the eggs are brown."